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Bronx Charter School Faces the Challenge of Paying Rent

New York City’s mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has proposed that well-resourced charter schools pay rent for using public school buildings.

According to the New York Times, Bronx Community Charter spends $781,000 annually on rent, or approximately 15 percent of its budget:

“You could practically run a whole school on that,” said Sasha Wilson, 43, a co-director of the school, which has 312 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. “It’s incredibly challenging on a charter school budget to do all this.”

After moving to a new space in August, the school’s rent tripled but enabled unique teaching opportunities:

First-graders mapped the building layout. Second-graders sat under sinks and sketched the plumbing, and fourth-graders explained how their classroom lights worked with circuit boards and light bulbs.

“It’s a mystery because it’s a new building,” said Richard Alejandro, 7, as he drew a water pipe in class. “You can go around the building and investigate ‘How does this work?’ It’s a place that I know now.”

While Bronx Community Charter has provided a model for how to adapt to this challenge, keeping charter schools rent-free will enable them to better serve New York students and families.

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